The public defense of Jannika Lindvall´s doctoral thesis in Didactics

Doctoral thesis and Licentiate seminars

Datum: 2018-01-19
Tid: 13.15
Plats: Mälardalen University, room Zeta, Västerås

The public defense of Jannika Lindvall´s doctoral thesis in Didactics will take place at Mälardalen University, room Zeta, Västerås at 13.15 on January 19, 2018.

Title: ”Critical features and impacts of mathematics teacher professional development programs: Comparing and characterizing programs implemented at scale”

Serial number: 249

The faculty examiner is Docent Torulf Palm, Umeå UNiversity. The examining committee consists of Professor Jonas Almqvist, Uppsala University docent Ewa Bergqvist, Umeå University and Docent Jesper Boesen, Jönköping University.

Reserve: Professor Anette Sandberg, Mälardalen University

Abstract

The aim of this thesis is to contribute to the knowledge base on conceptualizations and impacts of teacher professional development (PD) programs. This is done by studying the case of two large-scale teacher PD programs. The first was mandatory for all public elementary school mathematics teachers in a larger Swedish municipality, and the second has been completed by 76% of all elementary school mathematics teachers in Sweden. In the municipality, and during the time frame in which this study was conducted, it was possible to make a comparison between teachers participating in different programs.

Data on the programs’ impacts on teachers, instruction, and student achievement were gathered both immediately and one year after the teachers’ participation in one of them. In other words, the context of the study created an opportunity to respond to recent calls for studies that (a) examine the impacts of PD programs implemented on a larger scale, (b) adhere to PD programs’ impacts on teachers, instruction, and student achievement, (c) examine the sustainability of PD programs’ impacts, and (d) attend to variations within and between PD programs’ impacts.

The results show that the studied programs are highly similar if characterized according to established research frameworks on what constitutes critical features of teacher PD. At the same time, they demonstrate different impacts, both between the programs and within them. These results suggested an elaboration of two of the five critical features of teacher PD: Content Focus and Coherence. Through the development and application of a more finely grained tool to characterize the programs’ Content Focus, differences between their characteristics were detected. Together with a systematic review of the PD research literature on Coherence, these results formed a basis for discussing plausible reasons for the difference in the programs’ impacts as well as elaborating on the critical features of Content Focus and Coherence.

In summary, the thesis contributes: (a) empirical results in relation to large-scale teacher PD programs’ impacts; (b) methodological results in the form of tools for characterizing PD programs’ Content Focus and Coherence; and (c) theoretical results, as it examines established frameworks for characterizing teacher PD programs by using them in practice and, in light of the results, also suggests an elaboration of them.